Mind-Emotion Development Lab
Dr. Kristin Lagattuta
Research in our lab focuses on the development of young children's knowledge about people in terms of their inner, mental lives--what a person desires, intends, believes, thinks about, and feels emotionally.
How and when do children form a theory of mind, or a psychological understanding, of themselves and other people? More specifically, we are interested in developmental changes between age 3 and age 10 in children’s understanding of how a person’s mind (e.g., desires, thoughts, beliefs) can influence their emotions. Results of our research have shown that children develop numerous sophisticated insights about mental causes of emotions during the preschool and early grade-school years. That is, young children appreciate that emotions can be caused by remembering or being reminded about past emotional experiences, and by thinking about what might happen in the future. Additional studies examine children's knowledge about decision making and emotions in rule situations (links between psychological and moral reasoning), children's understanding of sources of fear and coping strategies for dealing with fear, children’s knowledge about self-conscious emotions, children’s awareness of the benefits of positive or optimistic thinking, the development of theory of mind in blind children, and children’s understanding of thoughts, emotions, and decision making in risk situations.